Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Postcard Acrostic #1

Figured out what to do with the postcards. 1 down, 6 to go.

Nifty Postcards

Received these way cool postcards the other day from UVA Press. It's a great way to let folks know about the release of Best New Poets--in theory, but here's my question: to whom do I send them (question sponsored by Lisa Fay Coutley)? I mean, apart from my Dad I'm sort of at a loss. I don't send many postcards. As a matter of fact, I've only ever sent one--a father's day card to my Dad while I was on a 3-week camping trip in Alaska. Well, I wrote it then, but I sent it nearly a year later when I found it bookmarking the back pages of TC Boyle's "Drop City."


I need to listen to more Traveling Wilburys. I need to eat less macaroni and cheese that comes in a box.


Have posted some new readings to the sidebar.

They've given us the specific date of the Hollins 50th Anniversary Reading I'll be participating in at AWP (with fellow alums Madison Smartt Bell, Jill McCorkle, David Huddle, Jeanne Larsen, and Jenny Boully; holy F that's one hell of a parenthetical): Friday afternoon in the Maryland Room of the Marriott. Is that good? Have I told you how excited I am about this? (very) Who's your favorite Hollins writer? For real, tell me. (Annie Dillard? Kiran Desai? Erin McKee?)

I've also posted two other East Coast readings in March, both of which are surreal seeming. The first will be at my alma mater, Elon University, on March 10. This is surreal for all the obvious readings: someone is offering to fly me across the country to read my poems. This someone is the person who first taught me poetry, someone other folks might call a mentor. My Dad lives in town and will get to hear me read from the book. Lots of old/new friends in the area. Can't wait.

The other is at the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I'll be reading at the University of Virginia Bookstore with Jeff Baker and Eleanor Tipton to celebrate Best New Poets 2010. And here's the kicker: Claudia Emerson is going to introduce us. How's that for ridiculous? She's in my starting five if I'm making an all-star team of American folks writing poetry today (along with Alan Shapiro, d.a. powell, Louise Gluck, and James Galvin--is that a boring list? who's your top-five?)


Killer first line of the moment:

Listen. Do you hear ghosts? Connect them to the sound of a canoe

from Mukoma Wa Ngugi's "Recipe: How to Become An Immigrant and an Exile"
(Satellite Convulsions: Poems from Tin House, Tin House Books, 2008)


Friday, October 15, 2010

"A Light, Damaged and Bruised"

Boone, proud Redbone Coonhound from the Blue Ridge of North Carolina, surveys his new Seattle, Washington backyard.

Things are changing here in the 206, and not just in the expected, look-at-those-different-colored-leaves kind of way. I have moved into a new house. The cave shall be forgotten, to be replaced with above-ground memories, lush and green in their ripe sentimentality (I think that's a mixed metaphor, but it's a blog-post, so there you have it). There are books (mine) for which cover art has been chosen. There are spring readings for said book taking shape across the Mid-Atlantic, as well as hopefully a few readings in the Northwest for Best New Poets 2010 and the book's launch (January 15th, 2011!). I feel abundantly lucky for these things.

Let's hold on to this place, for now.


Read these gorgeous paragraphs from the Colum McCann novel I'm currently reading:

"Corrigan told me once that Christ was quite easy to understand. He went where He was supposed to go. He stayed where He was needed. He took little or nothing along, a pair of sandals, a bit of a shirt, a few odds and ends to stave off the loneliness. He never rejected the world. If He had rejected it, He would have been rejecting mystery. And if He rejected mystery, He would have been rejecting faith.

What Corrigan wanted was a fully believable God, one you could find in the grime of everyday. The comfort he got from the hard, cold truth--the filth, the war, the poverty--was that life could be capable of small beauties. He wasn't interested in the glorious tales of the afterlife or the notions of a honey-soaked heaven. To him that was a dressing room for hell. Rather he consoled himself with the fact that, in the real world, when he looked closely into the darkness he might find the presence of a light, damaged and bruised, but a little light all the same. He wanted, quite simply, for the world to be a better place, and he was in the habit of hoping for it. Out of that came some sort of triumph that went beyond theological proof, a cause for optimism against all the evidence.

'Someday the meek might actually want it,' he said."

--from Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin
(Random House, 2009)


Cat people are people, too.

via the New York Times and Alissa Novoselick


Killer first line of the moment:

All that I see must in my sight become

from William Jay Smith's "Prelude"
(Words by the Water, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008)


This band, with this line-up, was the best. I followed them around upstate New York during the Summer of 2003. This video comes from shortly before bass player Scott Palmer passed away, before the horns left to join Slightly Stoopid (the name says it all), and before frontman and band founder Kevin Kinsella left the group. I wonder if I'll ever again be devoted to a band in the way I was devoted to them.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

How to Like It

These are the first days of fall. The wind
at evening smells of roads still to be traveled,
while the sound of leaves flowing across the lawns
is like an unsettled feeling in the blood,
the desire to get in a car and just keep driving.
A man and a dog descend their front steps.
The dog says, Let's go downtown and get crazy drunk.
Let's tip over all the trash cans we can find.
This is how dogs deal with the prospect of change.
But in his sense of the season, the man is struck
by the oppressiveness of his past, how his memories
which were shifting and fluid have grown more solid
until it seems he can see remembered faces
caught up among the dark places in the trees.
The dog says, Let's pick up some girls and just
rip off their clothes. Let's dig holes everywhere.
Above his house, the man notices wisps of cloud
crossing the face of the moon. Like in a movie,
he says to himself, a movie about a person
leaving on a journey. He looks down the street
to the hills outside of town and finds the cut
where the road heads north. He thinks of driving
on that road and the dusty smell of the car
heater, which hasn't been used since last winter.
The dog says, Let's go down to the diner and sniff
people's legs. Let's stuff ourselves on burgers.
In the man's mind, the road is empty and dark.
Pine trees press down to the edge of the shoulder,
where the eyes of animals, fixed in his headlights,
shine like small cautions against the night.
Sometimes a passing truck makes his whole car shake.
The dog says, Let's go to sleep. Let's lie down
by the fire and put our tails over our noses.
But the man wants to drive all night, crossing
one state line after another, and never stop
until the sun creeps into his rearview mirror.
Then he'll pull over and rest awhile before
starting again, and at dusk he'll crest a hill
and there, filling a valley, will be the lights
of a city entirely new to him.
But the dog says, Let's just go back inside.
Let's not do anything tonight. So they
walk back up the sidewalk to the front steps.
How is it possible to want so many things
and still want nothing. The man wants to sleep
and wants to hit his head again and again
against a wall. Why is it all so difficult?
But the dog says, Let's go make a sandwich.
Let's make the tallest sandwich anyone's ever seen.
And that's what they do and that's where the man's
wife finds him, staring into the refrigerator
as if into the place where the answers are kept--
the ones telling why you get up in the morning
and how it is possible to sleep at night,
answers to what comes next and how to like it.

--Stephen Dobyns
(from Velocities: New and Selected Poems 1966-1992, Viking Penguin, 1994)